Pickering’s parish church is famous for its stunning medieval wall paintings. Described by art historians as amongst the most important examples of their type in Northern Europe, they were originally painted in about 1450. They depict wonderful images such as giant St Christopher, Patron Saint of Travellers, wading through a fish filled river; St George defeating a fierce dragon; gruesome tortures and beheadings of saints, and the events leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Resurrection. Even a rare Descent into Hell, with the souls of the damned being rescued from the vicious Jaws of Hell.
The paintings were covered over at the Reformation but rediscovered by accident in 1852. However, the then Vicar didn’t like them and had them painted over again! Thankfully, his successor had the paintings restored, so once again visitors can be thrilled. And very thrilling they are! Well worth visiting.
As well as the exciting wall paintings, Pickering church itself is a fascinating building. The nave is substantially Norman, making the church the oldest building in Pickering. But there is much later work, a 14th century chancel and 15th century tower, for example. However, the font is thought to be of Saxon date, perhaps from a previous church built on this hilltop site.
Look out for the monument to Robert and Nicholas King, who came from Pickering and surveyed and planned today’s city of Washington DC.
The church is hidden behind shops and so approached by steps. But well worth the visit!